Cary, NC — Yes, folks. It’s gotten to the point where I pitched a tent in my backyard for a mini “vacation”.
For those who don’t know me from my introduction article, allow me to explain why.
Prior to moving to Cary in mid-February 2020, I lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the westernmost tip of NC for 5 years. Those years turned me into an outdoor enthusiast, a camper, a hiker and a person who inevitably, because of these activities, travels just about every weekend. Well, I used to.
In following the most stringent guidelines set by local and state government officials during this time, I was struggling to find an outlet that would truly allow me to experience the therapeutic quality of being outdoors that I longed for. Walks on a greenway are great, but I wanted something a bit more adventurous.
Enter my crazy idea.
Camping Gear and a Dash of Optimism
One of the first projects I took pride in at my new house in Cary was organizing all of the camping gear. Call me crazy, but I loved it. So, last weekend on Saturday afternoon I had my partner stay in the house and play loud music while she did various tasks so that she wouldn’t know what I was up to.
In about 10 minutes I had pitched the tent, grabbed a few sleeping bags, set up the camping chairs by our fire pit and even had time to add a few homey touches, like a doormat and a decorative flag I took from the front yard that reads, “Happy Campers.”
Hoping that she wouldn’t think I was crazy, I showed her what I had done and much to my relief, she was on board.
Why it was Worth It?
For those not familiar with camping or have gone many years without camping, I can understand the skepticism. Why we would sleep on the ground on a 40 degree night when we had a temperature-controlled house with comfy beds a few dozen feet away?
The best answer I can put together is the feeling you get as a result of it all.
I would compare it to the moment after you’ve slowed down and taken a deep breath, only that feeling was the entire night. Sitting in front of a fire is mesmerizing and, for a time, allows you to be in that moment. Away from screens and other distractions in the house, we were able to connect in conversation more than we normally would.
We traded the phone app scrolling for a roll of the dice in a particularly competitive game of Quelf and didn’t look at a screen for the entire evening. We dove deeper into a book that had been sitting dormant on the shelf for weeks. It was worth it because it shook up our pattern and allowed us to recharge.
Getting Creative to Find Your Fun
I’m not suggesting the entire town dig out the tent from their garages and sleep outside. I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do suggest that we all take a step back from our daily routines and find an activity you can do with the loved ones you are staying at home with that will give you your own sense of calm.
Thank You, Readers
I would be remiss if I did not seize the opportunity to express my profound gratitude to our community of readers for your continued support of local journalism. It’s what keeps me going and it helps us to continue to grow despite the hard times we are in.
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Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.